Last night, I got an early look at “The Dictator,” the new film from “Borat” star Sacha Baron Cohen. I went into the film feeling like I was taking one for the team, but I came out of it pleasantly surprised by what I’d seen.
Here’s an excerpt from my review:
I admit it, I wasn’t expecting to enjoy The Dictator, Sacha Baron Cohen’s new film in which he plays a dimwitted despot who finds himself down and out in New York City.
It was somewhere around the halfway mark in his 2006 film Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan that I fell out of love with Cohen’s shtick, in which he turns himself into a caricature of cultural stereotypes, puts real people into awkward situations, and then edits these encounters together into a semi-coherent narrative. He followed the same mockumentary-style formula with 2009′s Bruno, in which he pretends to be a flamboyant Austrian fashion designer, and early press for The Dictator made it seem as if it would be more of the same, with Cohen playing a Muammar Gaddafi-like tyrant from a fictional North African nation.
But lo and behold, I did enjoy The Dictator, which mines its comedy from the film’s talented cast instead of the reactions of people he pranks, and feels like a very different film than what we’ve come to expect from Cohen.
You can read the rest of the review at DigitalTrends.com.
The film is actually very, very funny — though it feels like it will find more success in the home video market than at the theater. Here’s a clip that features some segments from one of my favorite scenes in the film:
“The Dictator” hits theaters May 18.